Denzel Washington directs and stars in Fences as Troy Maxson, an ex-baseball player in the 1950s. It’s a role originated on Broadway in a 1987 Tony-winning performance by James Earl Jones. Washington starred in the 2010 Broadway revival (for which he also won a Tony), and now he’s taking another shot at this great character penned by August Wilson.
Viola Davis, who co-starred with Washington on Broadway (yep, another Tony), plays Rose, Troy’s long-suffering wife. The two try to raise a son of their own (Jovan Adepo) while contending with Troy’s children from past relationships and present affairs.
Some of 2016’s finest performances are contained in the movie, including that by Washington and, most notably, Davis, who should find herself in contention for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. The movie, however, suffers from that feeling that it is a filmed play: The staging is lackluster and drab, and some of the writing feels a tad melodramatic, far more suitable for a live performance than a motion picture.
Still, you can’t take away from the performances by Washington and Davis. Washington definitely has a knack for getting great work from his cast.
Fences opens Saturday, Dec. 24, at the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342).